Friday 25th September, 08:30 - 20:30. Stratford Lido and Lucy's Mill after Zander with Pete. Glorious early Autumn day.
This was a pretty successful day after Zander on the river.
Like the title? I am making ze joke! Process the joke. Ha Ha yes? Laugh then! OK, not so funny.
I arrived at the Lido about 07:40 just as the sun was coming up over the tree tops on the far bank. Glorious. Better still I've got a whole day of quenching this endless thirst for fishing.
I took a walk down to the shallow bay and saw some small fish in the clear water weaving amongst the weed. Wow, clear water. We've had nigh on three weeks without rain and with the air cooling at night the water was transparent. My texts and call to Pete went unanswered and I began to fear he'd fallen into The Trap. The trap is set the night before a day off work to go fishing. Excited about your forthcoming outing you have a beer, then another etc. You stay up too late and drink too much because you can, you've no work!! Bam, the fishing alarm goes off and you've not had enough sleep. The early brain fog persists into the day and clouds your fishing judgment and dulls all your aforementioned enthusiasm. If things don't go your way from the off then you can too easily slip into the blank mentality. A sorry state for any angler. Half way through a day and already resigned to not catching. Mentality is important when fishing. If it's not going your way then do you need to change something or sit it out knowing your method's right but the fish are not playing ball. The blank mentality means you stick it out even if a change would be better. I am always happiest when chasing the next opportunity, never happy to sit behind dead rods.
Pete turned up just before nine. I had tarred him with my brush as he had a cold.
I set up on the boat-turning bay at the swan's neck at the Lido. I'd beefed up the submerged float rigs for Perch for today. Wire traces replaced the nylon hook lengths in case of a Pike. I cast the right hand rod into the turning area and the left hand rod three quarters across. Pete feeder fished upstream of me.
The first hour and a half passed without a touch. I had both rods on quiver tips and braided line as I'd heard Zander bites could be finicky and I wanted to see everything. Braid meant I saw the leaves touching the line as they blew off the trees and drifted past. At one point a squirrel farted a mile away and I had a twitch on one of the rods.
As the sun rose I could see the deep channel on the far side was thinner than I thought and was quite tight up against the far bank trees. I recast the left hand rod as close as I could to the far bank.
I love the Avon;
Within five minutes of casting I had a snatchy twitch on the left hand rod. I struck straight away into thin air.
I moved the right hand rod over to the far side too and recast the left. Once again, in the shade of the trees the left hand rod twitched. I left it twitching for maybe fifteen seconds this time - a lifetime. I struck and was into a fish. It was a Zander weighing 3lb 14oz. That's worth bronze in the competition (2pts).
Off the blocks;
Whilst holding this fish for the photo it kicked and it's serrated gill plate bit deeply into my unprotected right thumb. It was not pretty. I have been showing the wound to my daughter all day as it makes the base of her back go funny. All subsequent fish were gloved.
Both rods stayed out on the far bank for the rest of the morning. I missed another bite then connected with a fish weighing 4lb 8ozs.
Silver Zed (3pts);
After this one I missed three more bites, i think through striking too early. As the afternoon approached and the day brightened further the bites eased up.
Snarling and angry - Pete makes it into this photo;
We moved down to Lucy's Mill for the late afternoon / evening session. Pete was after a Barbel and I would like to have seen him catch one as I'm beginning to forget what they look like. The parking was a bargain at £9 each.
Whilst it remained bright I didn't have many bites down on the weirs however it clouded over late afternoon and as the sun faded and dipped the action got going. I went on to catch five further fish but nothing topping 4lbs 8ozs.
Overall I estimate I hit 40% of the bites across the whole day. Not good stats but it's harder than you think with these jiggly biters. They don't tug hard or run off with it in my very limited experience.
I caught three Zander in quick succession as dusk dimmed to last light but then subsequent casts to the same area went untouched. I've heard Zander hunt in packs and this run of fish followed by nothing supported that.
I tried for a Perch down the side at dusk and hooked two fish which fell off before netting. This made my voice rise an octave or two as they were definitely both over a pound. I can feel a door opening here for future evening sessions.
I enjoyed Zander fishing. The way I did it it was like quiver tipping for predators.
Pete got amongst the Bream but Berty didn't show.
Here are the scores in the competition;